Overview: Radioactive Contamination

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Author: Richard Denton, MD

Disclaimer: I am a medical doctor and will concentrate on the medical aspects. I have no conflict of interest as some nuclear physicists might who are paid by the nuclear industry.

Radiation is one of the six crises that this Platform addresses; each one could annihilate civilization as we know it. Radiation could do so in either an acute or chronic manner. The acute effects would come from a major accident, miscalculation, or terrorist attack or an actual nuclear war. The chronic effects are killing by inducing cancers and other medical conditions.

Radiation exposure is of course related to the other five global threat scenarios. Radiation is interconnected as part of a nuclear war that would immediately kill millions from radiation. A nuclear bomb is not just a bigger better bomb but emits radiation that kills locally and at a distance over time. Because of its power, it would put dust and smoke into the stratosphere that would cause a decrease of the sun’s penetration. A “nuclear winter” would result, causing death of millions by famine. Some people suggest that nuclear power is “green” —even the answer to climate change. But nuclear power plants could be a target of terrorists using cyberwarfare or crashing an airliner into a reactor.

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According to new research released Wednesday, bumblebees exposed to levels of radiation seen within the Chernobyl exclusion zone saw a “significant” reduction in reproduction, prompting experts to reconsider worldwide nuclear environmental risk assessments.

Aging Hanford Tank Is Leaking Radioactive Waste Into The Ground, Feds Say Annette Cary | Tri-City Herald | 29 April 2021 “An underground Hanford tank holding 123,000 gallons of radioactive waste appears to be leaking contaminated liquid into the ground, according to the Department of Energy. This is the second of Hanford’s 149 single-shell tanks believed to be currently leaking waste, although in the past 67 tanks are suspected of leaking. The most recently discovered leaker is Tank B-109, which was one of the earliest waste storage tanks built. It was constructed during World War II and received waste from Hanford site operations from 1946 to 1976. Hanford’s 149 single-shell tanks were built to hold a mix of high-level radioactive and other hazardous chemical waste from chemically processing irradiated uranium to remove plutonium. The Hanford site in Eastern Washington was used from WWII through the Cold War to produce about two-thirds of the plutonium… Read more »

“Emptying the tank is possible but would be expensive.” So where would you put it? Double-shelled tanks cost hundreds of millions of dollars. But if you put it in the ground, we know where it is going to wind up. What other options are there?

Enriched Secrecy: BWXT’s Radioactive Plans Zach Ruiter | Trent Arthur | 13 April 2021 “The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) recently granted a ten-year licence renewal to BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada on Monaghan Road in downtown Peterborough-Nogojiwanong. The decision to grant the licence is contentious because it allows BWXT to spew toxic radioactive uranium particles into the water and disperse them in the air across the street from Prince of Wales Elementary School. BWXT is the new owner and operator of what was General Electric-Hitachi Canada, the nuclear operation of the General Electric factory known for poisoning generations of workers and families in addition to contaminating the Little Lake and Otonabee River system with numerous toxic chemicals. The added pollution will come from relocating their current uranium pelleting factory from Toronto to Peterborough-Nogojiwanong.”   Read more Pelleting is the cooking of natural uranium fuel powder, at 1650 degrees centigrade, to form… Read more »

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French Nuclear Tests Contaminated 110,000 In Pacific, Says Study

BBC News | 10 March 2021

France concealed the true impact of its nuclear tests in the Pacific from the 1960s to the 1990s, a study has said.

Researchers used declassified French military documents, calculations and testimonies to reconstruct the impact of a number of the tests.

They estimated that around 110,000 people in French Polynesia were affected by the radioactive fallout.

The number represented “almost the entire” population at the time, the researchers found.
French Polynesia, a French territory made up of hundreds of islands and atolls including Tahiti, was the site of dozens of nuclear tests over 30 years.
Over the course of two years, researchers analysed around 2,000 documents released by the French military and recreated the impact of “the most contaminating” of France’s nuclear tests carried out between 1966 and 1974.

The study was carried out in collaboration between French news website Disclose, researchers from Princeton University and British firm Interprt.”

Read More: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56340159

How many citizens of France are aware that their government had put radioactive fallout onto 110,000 French Polynesians? We need a picture of Gauguin’s Tahitian ladies carrying nuclear contamination signs.

Remember the Rainbow Warrior!

More Poison from the Plant

Zach Ruiter | Arthur (Trent University) | 14 January 2021

“On the solstice, December 21, 2020, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) gifted BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada with an extended licence to pollute in downtown Peterborough-Nogojiwanong.

That licence allows BWXT to significantly intensify their radioactive pollution across the street from the Prince of Wales Elementary School on Monaghan Road.

Pollution will intensify by adding uranium fuel processing to their current operations, known as pelleting.”

Read More Here: https://www.trentarthur.ca/news/more-poison-from-the-plant

Big Money, Nuclear Subsidies, and Systemic Corruption Cassandra Jeffery and M. V. Ramana | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists | 12 February 2021 “For years, the firm lobbied to get a subsidy to continue operating its unprofitable nuclear plants and maintain its revenue flow. When lobbying efforts failed to produce subsidies, it resorted to bribery to gain legislative support for House Bill 6, 2019 legislation that forces state consumers to pay into something called “the Ohio Clean Air Fund.” The green language is a smoke screen for the real purpose: to siphon nearly $150 million annually to FirstEnergy to keep its Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants and two coal-fired power plants operating, while simultaneously gutting Ohio’s renewable energy standards. Also gone were the state’s energy efficiency programs, which had saved consumers and corporations millions of dollars. When citizens tried to organize a referendum to repeal the bill, FirstEnergy indulged in various dirty tactics to… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by Adam Wynne

This way to treat Hanford radioactive waste could save $210 billion. But is it safe enough? Annette Cary | Tri-City Herald | 7 January 2021 | https://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/hanford/article248276995.html “Grouting rather than glassifying a large amount of radioactive waste at the Hanford nuclear reservation could save taxpayers $73 billion to $210 billion, according to a new Department of Energy report. Turning millions of gallons of waste into a concrete-like grout form also could cut 10 years off the time needed to treat radioactive waste now stored in underground tanks and permanently dispose of it, the DOE report estimated.” Read more DOE recently submitted a report to Congress on potential opportunities for different ways to treat waste now held at Hanford and other DOE nuclear sites. The report was required three years ago by the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act to look at the feasibility, costs and cost savings of reclassifying high level radioactive… Read more »


Huh? This doesn’t explain what the hell “grouting” is. Encapsulating the waste in a “specialized grout”? Tell us more about this “grout.”

Until closing Feb 6, 2021 petition to call on the Canadian Government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is open.

Sign here:https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Sign/e-3028

Nuclear Imperialism in China’s Xinjiang Tara Rao | Observer Research Foundation | 19 October 2020 A third of the PRCs uranium for nuclear energy comes from extortion in the Yili basin of Xinjiang. This is also home to a great population of Uighurs. Today, China has one of the world’s largest nuclear energy development programmes. During the Cold War era, there did not exist a political or economic motivator for commercialising nuclear energy as coal-fired power stations and hydroelectric energy dominated the system. However, after 2005, China has been able to reinvent this narrative. Notably, what this resurrected was a reassertion of spaces of injustice for their minorities. Their lands were first grounds for nuclear weapons’ testing and now used for energy rather than warfare purposes, thus continuing a historical subjugation to nuclear imperialism. This nuclear imperialism situates itself within an already prevalent cyclic violence against China’s far western frontier region of Xinjiang’s ethnic… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by Adam Wynne

Groups say federal funding of new nuclear reactors is a “dirty, dangerous distraction” from tackling climate change Canadian Environmental Law Association | 20 October 2020 Ottawa, October 20, 2020 — Public interest groups across Canada are criticizing the federal government for funding small nuclear reactor development and are challenging the government to release the research and data that support its strategy. Ministers Seamus O’Regan and Navdeep Bains last week announced a $20 million grant to Terrestrial Energy in Ontario to continue developing a molten salt reactor. More funding announcements for new nuclear reactors are expected in the coming weeks. The federal funding for new nuclear energy is opposed by groups from BC to New Brunswick, including the West Coast Environmental Law Association, Friends of the Earth Canada, Greenpeace Canada, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Environmental Defence, Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick, Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan, Concerned Citizens… Read more »

Current Chernobyl-level radiation harmful to bees: study Bumblebees exposed to levels of radiation found within the Chernobyl exclusion zone suffered a “significant” drop in reproduction, in new research published Wednesday that scientists say should prompt a rethink of international calculations of nuclear environmental risk. The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, set out to discover how ionizing radiation affects insects, which are often thought to be more resilient than other species. Researchers in Scotland and Germany exposed bee colonies in a laboratory setting to a range of radiation levels found in areas of the exclusion zone around the ruined Chernobyl site, where a reactor exploded in 1986 in the world’s worst nuclear disaster. They found that colony reproduction reduced by 30% to 45% at doses previously considered too low to impact insects. Read more “We found that at radiation levels detectable in Chernobyl, the number of… Read more »

Japan Left With Only One Nuclear Reactor Working Due To Shutdown http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13900336 Shutdown due to Maintenance; Implementation of Safety Upgrades; and Anti-Terrorism System Installation Japan will have to limp by on just one nuclear reactor for the next six weeks after Kansai Electric Power Co. shut down the No. 4 reactor at its Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, western Japan, for regular maintenance on Nov. 3. That task will fall to the No. 4 reactor of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear power plant in Genkai, Saga Prefecture. All nuclear power plants shut down in Japan in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster that crippled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture. Since then, the Kansai, Shikoku and Kyushu electric power utilities restarted operations of nine reactors at five nuclear power plants. This is the first time since May 2017 that all nuclear reactors operated by Kansai Electric… Read more »

U.S. Goes Nuclear to Compete With Russia, China in Europe’s East “The former Cold War frontier of eastern Europe is becoming a battleground in the $500 billion business of building nuclear power plants. Four months after lifting a prohibition on financing nuclear-energy deals overseas, the U.S. is finding an opening for companies such as General Electric Co., Westinghouse Electric Co. and Bechtel Group Inc. In the span of a few weeks, the U.S. signed a memorandum with Romania for the financing of a new reactor and other accords with Poland as well as Bulgaria, which plans to revive an older reactor project. The plan to win business for U.S. companies in this geopolitically key market started under Donald Trump is poised to survive the transition to a new U.S. administration under President-elect Joe Biden. That may nudge eastern European partners to move forward with stalled nuclear projects. Greater access to… Read more »

Did you know that climate change is a big risk for nuclear reactors? Nuclear News notes the following: “As global warming climbs and humanity’s water consumption increases, nuclear and fossil-fueled power plants that rely on freshwater for cooling may not be able to perform at their peak capacity or could be forced to shut down temporarily even as demand for their supplies for indoor cooling and other uses increase, according to researchers and industry experts. Climate change-exacerbated water shortage issues pose a near-term and longer-term performance risk to power plants, such as hydropower and nuclear, around the world. And in the Lower 48, more than half of the fossil-fueled and nuclear fleet is located in areas forecast to face climate-related water stress by the end of this decade under a business-as-usual scenario, according to an analysis by S&P Global Market Intelligence. But electric utilities’ overall exposure to power plant water… Read more »

Did you know that multiple other nuclear power plants around the world are at risk from seismic threats?

This timely article from Dr. Ed Lyman – the Director of Nuclear Power Safety, Climate, & Energy at the Union of Concerned Scientists discusses this in more detail within the context of the H. B. Robinson Nuclear Power Plant operated by Duke Energy Progress in Hartsville, South Carolina, United States of America.

Several other plants in the United States of America are at risk from seismic threats, including the Callaway Nuclear Power Plant in Fulton, Missouri; the D. C. Cook Nuclear Power Plant in Bridgman, Michigan; and Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in Avila Beach, California.


What are your thoughts on Japan’s recent proposal to release radioactive contaminated water from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Disaster into the Pacific Ocean? Holding tanks on site for radioactively contaminated cooling water and radioactively contaminated groundwater will be full by 2022.


Last edited 3 years ago by Adam Wynne

Graphic Shows Problems Managing Radioactive Waste

Dr. Richard Denton has shared this graphic-based report on radioactive waste management with Project Save the World. This report was initially available in French in 2014, but has just been translated to English.

Due to file size limitations, I am unable to embed the material directly into this comment.


China is Reprocessing Plutonium From the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “Since 1983, China has had the objective of developing breeder reactors to run on recycled plutonium. Since 2004, it has been progressing through three stages of its plutonium recycling strategy: from pilot to demonstration to commercial facilities. At the first stage, in 2010, China began testing a pilot civilian reprocessing plant and running a small experimental fast reactor. “Although those pilot facilities did not perform well, since 2015 China has moved forward to the second stage, which includes a demonstration reprocessing plant, a mixed-oxide fuel facility, and two demonstration liquid-sodium-cooled fast-neutron reactors. Recent satellite images and other information show construction of those demonstration facilities is actively underway. Meanwhile, the China National Nuclear Corporation is pushing toward the third stage by negotiating with France’s nuclear fuel cycle company Orano (formerly Areva) over the purchase of a large commercial reprocessing plant,… Read more »

Radiation effects on women Thank you to Dr. Richard Denton – Co-Chair of North America International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War and Chair of Rotarians 4 Nuclear Ban – for sharing Dr. Mary Olson’s recent “Disproportionate Impact of Radiation and Radiation Regulation” article with Project Save the World Team Members. This article identifies critical and valuable information pertaining to gender-based bias in radiation safety guidelines. Dr. Mary Olson is the Chair of the Gender and Radiation Impact Project. A Full Version of the Article is Available through Dr. Olson’s Gender and Radiation Impact Project Website: https://www.genderandradiation.org/success-stories Article Abstract: “Reference Man is used for generic evaluation of ionizing radiation impacts, regulation, and nuclear licensing decisions made by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (US NRC). The United States Code of Federal Regulations, 2018 edition, Chapter 10: Part 20 ‘Standards for Protection Against Radiation’ contains eight references to ‘reference man’ as the… Read more »

Here is George Monbiot’s scathing review of Michael Moore’s film, Planet of the Humans How did Michael Moore become a hero to climate deniers and the far right? The filmmaker’s latest venture is an excruciating mishmash of environment falsehoods and plays into the hands of those he once opposed Published in The Guardian, Thu 7 May 2020 11.28 BST Denial never dies; it just goes quiet and waits. Today, after years of irrelevance, the climate science deniers are triumphant. Long after their last, desperate claims had collapsed, when they had traction only on “alt-right” conspiracy sites, a hero of the left turns up and gives them more than they could have dreamed of. Read more Planet of the Humans, whose executive producer and chief promoter is Michael Moore, now has more than 6 million views on YouTube. The film does not deny climate science. But it promotes the discredited myths… Read more »

Radioactivity in Port Hope Here are excerpts of an article by Robert Del Tredici and Gordon Edwards Glimpses of Nuclear Ontario Author: Del Tredici, Robert and Edwards, Gordon Canadian Centre for Architecture Cameco. “Eighteen thousand people live in picturesque Port Hope on the north shore of Lake Ontario, an hour’s drive from Toronto. The town is host to one of the oldest and largest uranium chemical processing facilities on the planet, located not far from the downtown shopping district. In the background of the image above are the two key uranium conversion facilities: the smaller structure, on the left, processes uranium for domestic use; the larger building, on the right, processes uranium for exports worldwide. Read more The Cameco Uranium Conversion Plant began its life in 1932 as a radium refinery. In 1942 it started refining uranium for the Manhattan Project. During these years, the refinery dumped radioactive waste directly… Read more »

Pandemic in the Nuclear Forces The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reminds us that Covid 19 affects the nuclear industries too. Does that worry you? How nuclear forces worldwide are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic By John Krzyzaniak Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, April 14, 2020 Excerpt: In recent weeks, the coronavirus outbreak has elicited at least a few tone-deaf comments from top US defense officials about the readiness of their nuclear forces. In mid-March, the commander of US Strategic Command, Adm. Charles Richard, reassured his audience that the United States’ nuclear forces had not been adversely affected by the pandemic and that they “remain ready to execute the nation’s strategic deterrence mission.” In effect, Adm. Richard was telling his audience that the United States was still capable of launching a massive nuclear retaliation that would undoubtedly kill millions. Similarly, at the beginning of April, the commander of the US Air Force’s… Read more »

New England Survives Without Nuclear Power By Michael Steinberg OBrag, 17 April 2020 Article Excerpt(s): “On April 3 the Connecticut Mirror reported “Most New England nuclear power offline due to timing fluke problem.” There are only two nuke plants still (sometimes) operating in the region, Seabrook in New Hampshire with one reactor and Millstone in Connecticut with two. On March 31 the 1245 Megawatt shut down for refueling. The next day the 1230 Unit 3 reactor at Millstone had a mishap that forced it to shut down as well. As a result, by April 3, the Mirror reported, the grid showed nuclear at 8% and natural gas (usually derived with fracking) at a whopping 68%. Nuclear usually contributed a third of the electricity to the grid. So at this time New England was without 75% of its nuclear power. Only the 45 year old Millstone 2 reactor was still going.… Read more »

Sellafield’s Own Plutonium Britain has 139 tons of plutonium. That’s a real problem. By Christopher Fichtlscherer and Moritz Kütt The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 17 April 2020 Sellafield, UK. Article Excerpt(s): “The United Kingdom’s last plutonium reprocessing plant, B205, located in Sellafield in northern England, will shut down by the end of 2020. It will bring an end to the era of plutonium separation in the country, which began 68 years ago. Because the United Kingdom never used any of the material it recouped from reprocessing except in nuclear weapons, today it has amassed a stockpile of almost 139 metric tons of separated plutonium. This creates lasting problems: Plutonium stored in Sellafield is highly toxic and poses a permanent risk of proliferation. It is enough material to build tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. According to parliamentary estimates, storage will cost the British government about 73 million pounds a… Read more »

Russia, China Willing To Fund Nuclear Projects In Africa Farai Shawn Matiashe “Faced with power shortfalls, demands for greener energy and drought threats to hydropower, a growing number of African countries are considering a shift to an unexpected power source – nuclear energy. South Africa has the continent’s only commercial nuclear power plant. But according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a third of the 30 countries around the world considering adopting nuclear power are in Africa. Read more Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan have engaged with the IAEA to assess their readiness for a nuclear programme. Algeria, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia are mulling the possibility, according to the agency. Altogether, at least seven sub-Saharan African countries have signed agreements to explore nuclear power with the backing of Russia, according to public announcements and the World Nuclear Association, an industry body. “Africa is embracing nuclear science… Read more »

Last edited 3 years ago by Project Save The World

Bathing in Radon! Radon baths are considered a therapeutic health treatment in several Central and European countries. These baths are with water infused with radon, often sourced from nearby mines and springs. This is alarming as the radon will eventually become aerosolized and subsequently be inhaled, where it can cause significant damage due to alpha radiation (among other classes of radiation) emissions. Despite this risk of inhalation, a number of national and regional health agencies subsidize this therapeutic treatment – which is allegedly particularly popular among residents of former Soviet states and more recently, Middle Easterners. Two of the most popular sites for this treatment are Jácymov, Czechia and Khmilnyk, Ukraine – where a number of spas offer the service. While employees of the spa and participants of the allegedly therapeutic treatments laud the radon baths, researchers elsewhere have expressed concerns of the risks of radon exposure (which is known… Read more »

Wildfire near Chernobyl

In April 2020 forest fires are out of control near Chernobyl. They were caused by someone burning garbage and grass. If they damage Pripyat, this would threaten tourism revenue, which has become a significant component of the local economy since the disaster.

As I write, fires are approximately two kilometers from the former nuclear power plant and radioactive waste site.

Area Of Chernobyl Wildfire Triples In Size
TASS: Russian News Agency, 7 April 2020
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Renfrew Citizens Want Nuclear Safety Groups Urge Trudeau To Fix Serious Gaps In Nuclear Safety And Governance By Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area, 8 April 2020 Notes: Dr. Gordon Edwards – the author of the 3 April 2020 letter referenced in this news release – has been a participant in several episodes of Project Save the World’s podcast. Dr. Edwards’ 3 April 2020 letter – additionally linked below – is available here: http://ccnr.org/Letter_Trudeau_03_04_2020_e.pdf Article Excerpt(s): “For immediate release (Montreal, April 8, 2020) Three independent organizations — the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility and the Ottawa River Institute – have written to the Prime Minister saying that Canada’s nuclear safety standards and nuclear governance are failing to adequately protect Canadians from dozens of dangerous radioactive pollutants from nuclear facilities. An April 3rd letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cites serious deficiencies… Read more »

Nadezhda and the Victims of Mayak

Human rights activist Nadezhda Kutepova did significant work for the victims of Mayak in Russia until she had to flee to Paris as a human rights refugee. Watch her astonishing interview with Al Jazeera.

Nadezhda Kutepova: Life In Russia’s Secret Nuclear City
Al Jazeera, 16 December 2017
Link: https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/2017/12/nadezhda-kutepova-life-russia-secret-nuclear-city-171214121737252.html

Preserving Old Nuclear Weapons Films Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is digitizing and re-analyzing old nuclear test films. Dr. Greg Spriggs – a weapons physicist – is leading the project, which has partnered with archivists and film preservation experts, including Dr. Jim Moye. Many of the old film reels documenting the nuclear weapons tests are disintegrating from age and radiation exposure. Dr. Spriggs has noted that the early bomb yield calculations (essentially the calculations determining how powerful the nuclear weapon is/was) was done by hand (with the assistance of a Kodagraph) during the mid-twentieth century (1940s – 1960s) and often at fast speeds (likely due to military, political, and societal pressure). This has resulted in calculation errors of the bombs’ yields. In some circumstances, a bomb’s yield is/was off by as much as 30%. Three particular reasons (among many other reasons) that this is alarming include: 1) A significant amount of… Read more »

This is a fascinating interview – from Radio Canada International in 2010 – by Dr. Gordon Edwards on the risks of forest fires in areas with radioactive materials and/or environmental radioactive contamination. If you have ten minutes to spare, please take a listen to it.

Link: http://www.ccnr.org/Wildfires_2010_08.mp3

The Swiss are Quitting Nuclear Switzerland Switches Off Nuclear Plant As It Begins Exit from Atomic Power Reuters, 20 December 2019 Article Excerpt: “MUEHLEBERG, Switzerland (Reuters) – Switzerland’s Muehleberg nuclear power station went off the grid on Friday after 47 years, marking the end of an era as the shutdown starts the country’s exit from atomic power. The 373-megawatt-capacity plant which opened in 1972 has generated enough electricity to cover the energy consumption of the nearby city of Bern for more than 100 years. In scenes shown live on Swiss TV, at 12.30 pm (1130 GMT) a technician pressed two buttons in the control room to stop the chain reaction and deactivate the reactor, shutting down the plant for good. The closure is the first of Switzerland’s five nuclear reactors to be shuttered following the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, which triggered safety concerns about nuclear power around the… Read more »

In deep boreholes? No. Nuclear waste disposal: Why the case for deep boreholes is … full of holes By Lindsay Krall Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 26 March 2020 Article Excerpt(s): “Many challenges to the viability of borehole disposal stem from the limit that modern drilling techniques impose on borehole diameters. Although the precise borehole geometry is dependent on location-specific geologic variables, deeper boreholes generally necessitate smaller diameters. Such a limitation has implications both in terms of the barrier system that surrounds the nuclear fuel and in terms of the ability to fully characterize the geology of the disposal site. To accommodate canisters whose diagonal cross-section has a length of 30 centimeters, the diameter of Deep Isolation’s curving boreholes must be larger than 40 centimeters. Since this exceeds the 22-centimeter standard for oil and gas extraction, the technical feasibility of Deep Isolation’s drilling scheme remains unclear. But if it is… Read more »

The Dene and Uranium Mining at Great Bear Lake They Never Told Us These Things By Julie Salverson, Maisonneuve Magazine, 12 August 2011 Article Excerpt(s): “Long ago, there was a famous rock called Somba Ke—“The Money Place”—on the eastern shore of Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories. Loud noises came from this place and it was bad medicine to pass near it. In the old days, a group of caribou hunters camped at Somba Ke for a night. One of them—a man named Ehtséo Ayah, known in his community as “Grandfather”—had a dream and saw many strange things: men with white faces climbing into a big hole in the ground, a great flying bird, a big stick dropped on people far away. This would happen sometime in the future, after we are all gone, the prophet said. In his vision, everyone died. Everyone burned. Theresa Baton recounts this tale,… Read more »

The Dene Apologized for Hiroshima Yes, Canada contributed to the development of nuclear weapons. And there were harsh effects of the uranium mining on the Dene (First Nations) people of Northwest Territories. Canada’s Uranium Highway: Victims and Perpetrators By Sean Howard Cape Breton Spectator, 7 August 2019 Article Excerpt(s): “On numerous occasions in recent decades, Canadian governments have apologized for a host of egregious wrongdoings. While such words of contrition are too often unaccompanied by adequate actions, they can help make visible, as Trudeau argued in his 2017 apology, the “hard truths” Canadian society needs to confront. Yet the most extraordinary apology in Canadian history was surely that offered by the victims of systematic mistreatment by the Canadian government to the victims of a crime against humanity they unknowingly helped others commit. For on 6 August 1998, 10 members of the small Sahtúgot’ine Dene community of Déline (Fort Franklin) in… Read more »

The Nuclear Workforce during the Pandemic Covid-19 Could Cause Staff Shortages in the Nuclear Power Industry By Charles Digges Bellona (Nuclear Issues), 20 March 2020 Article Excerpt(s): “As the Covid-19 virus grinds world economies to a halt, several national nuclear operators are weighing how to keep sensitive and vulnerable infrastructure chugging along in the face of staff shortages due to the illness. A number of national contingency plans, if enacted, could mark an unprecedented step by nuclear power providers to keep their highly-skilled workers healthy as governments scramble to minimize the impact of the global pandemic that has infected more than 240,000 people worldwide. Officials in the United States, for instance, have suggested they might isolate critical technicians at the country’s nuclear power plants and ask them to live onsite to avoid exposure to the virus. Many operators say they have been stockpiling beds, blankets and food to support staff… Read more »

American Nuclear Waste

Fred Pearce – the author of “Fallout: Disasters, Lies, and the Legacy of the Nuclear Age” (2018) published the following article in The Atlantic in May 2018. The article discusses the legacy of decades of nuclear waste from nuclear power plants across the United States.

The 60-Year Downfall of Nuclear Power in the U.S. Has Left a Huge Mess

By Fred Pearce
The Atlantic, 28 May 2018
Link: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/05/the-60-year-downfall-of-nuclear-power-in-the-us-has-left-a-huge-mess/560945/

The CBC Recounts the Dene Plight CBC’s Canada: A People’s History reveals Canada’s connection to the production of the atomic bombs used on Hiroshima (Japan) and Nagasaki (Japan) via uranium mining. Mining for a Bomb By CBC – Canada: A People’s History, 2001 Article Excerpt(s): “Canada supplies uranium for the development of the U.S. atomic bomb, while native-Canadian miners work in clouds of radioactive dusk One of Canadas biggest contributions to the war effort remained shrouded in secrecy in early 1940s. And the secret would devastate the northern Canadian natives who were hired to mine a deadly metal called uranium. In 1942, a group of scientists led by physicist Enrico Fermi used a pile of uranium and graphite in an abandoned squash court at the University of Chicago to demonstrate the first controlled nuclear chain reaction. The experiment launched the Manhattan Project, the race to build an atomic bomb during… Read more »

Radioactive Geysers? There’s a risk of radioactive-contaminated geysers forming in areas with buried nuclear waste products – especially if subterranean storage silos flood. This is due to the radioactive-materials heating the groundwater and is coined the Yellowstone Effect. “According to the report, if the superheated silos are flooded, they could potentially erupt with deadly radioactive steam geysers. The phenomenon has been dubbed “The Yellowstone Effect,” because the geysers are likely to mimic the action of the famous “Old Faithful” geyser at Yellowstone National Park. According to Edison’s own documents, the beachfront nuclear waste storage facility is subject to flooding and bluff collapse. Read more The exterior temperature of the thin-walled canisters average 452°F, while the surface of the silos that hold them are at least 350°F, well above the boiling point of water (212°F). In the event of flooding, cold ocean water will flash to steam once it enters the… Read more »

If your nuclear delivery truck is stuck in a traffic jam… Here’s the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) discussing the risks of transporting nuclear and/or radioactive materials. A Moving Target: Nuclear Security During Transport By Inna Pletukhina International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) News, 24 January 2020 The article identifies that even minor variables – such as a small traffic collision – can have significant impacts. The article additionally acknowledges the challenges of unpredictable variables in the modelling of transportation safety protocols.  Article Excerpt(s): “Nuclear and other radioactive material is hardest to protect when it is transported from point A to point B — more than half of the incidents of theft of radioactive material reported to the IAEA between 1993 and 2019 occurred while it was in transport. How to further strengthen nuclear security during transport is one of the topics that will be discussed at the IAEA’s upcoming International Conference… Read more »

Getting into the Waste Storage Business? A tunnel at Yucca Mountain Northwest Public Broadcasting spells out proposals for managing nuclear waste. What do you think of letting private companies handle the nuclear waste management? As Nuclear Waste Piles Up, Private Companies Pitch New Ways To Store It By Jeff Brady Northwest Public Broadcasting, 2 May 2019 Notes: Discusses the Peace Bottom Atomic Power Station in Delta, Pennsylvania. Some interesting graphics are included in the article! Article Excerpt(s): Congress is once again debating how to dispose of the country’s growing inventory of nuclear waste. Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso is proposing legislation that would jumpstart licensing hearings for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage site in Nevada. The Trump administration also is asking Congress for money to resume work on that decades-old project. But that may not end local opposition or a longstanding political stalemate. And in the meantime, nuclear plants… Read more »

Nuclear Courtship of Indigenous Communities

The Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN) recently released a two-part documentary called “Nuclear Courtship” which discusses plans for a deep geological repository (nuclear waste dump) in Northern Ontario. The documentary is quite interesting and I recommend checking it out. It is available at these links:

Part One: https://aptnnews.ca/2020/02/07/indigenous-communities-courted-as-nuclear-industry-looks-for-place-to-put-used-fuel/

Part Two: https://aptnnews.ca/2020/02/14/opportunity-for-youth-or-sacrifice-zone-community-reaction-to-nuclear-waste-burial-plan-is-mixed/

Radioactivity Dumped Near the Columbia River 2.5 Million Pounds Of Radioactive Waste Illegally Dumped In Oregon Landfill Near Columbia River By Monica Samayoa Northwest Public Broadcasting, 15 February 2020 Article Excerpt: “Goodnight Midstream provides brine water supply and recycling services to the oil and gas industry for fracking operations. The liquid that Chemical Waste Management had received had been in contact with rocks underground that contained radium, said ODOE’s nuclear waste remediation specialist Jeff Burright. “Then they filtered that water so that they can reuse it, that radium was captured in what are known as filter socks, which are very long teabags if you will, and it accumulated there and what we’ve gathered is about 80% of the total waste consisted of these filter socks,” Burright said. Read more Oregon has a threshold of five picocuries per gram of radium 226. Picocuries are a measurement of the radioactivity in a… Read more »

France tested nuclear weapons in Algeria This is ground zero for French nuclear test in the Sahara The Algerian tests (Ekker and Reganne) totaled 17 tests during the early and mid-1960s. Testing of the atomic bomb stopped in Algeria in 1966. For a few links to articles about these tests: Read more Title: Algeria: 60 Years On, French Nuclear Tests Leave Bitter Fallout Author: Bryant, Elizabeth Publication(s): Deutsche Welle (DW) Date: 13 February 2020 Link: https://www.dw.com/en/algeria-60-years-on-french-nuclear-tests-leave-bitter-fallout/a-52354351 Notes: This article identifies the post-colonial legacy of France’s nuclear testing (17 tests) in Algeria. The article additionally identifies how to date only a few hundred people – including only one Algerian – have been compensated. Title: Diplomatic Effects Of The French Nuclear Tests In Algeria Author: D., Romana Publication(s): ArcGis: StoryMaps Date: 1 November 2019 Link: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/6cd1a9ef9d284557a90b2c353b5f5875 Notes: This site discusses how France used the atomic bomb to shape its foreign policy and… Read more »

Hanford’s Glassification Plan By John Stang Already 12 years behind schedule, a project at the Hanford nuclear complex meant to transform millions of gallons of radioactive waste into benign glass faces yet another delay. Since the 1990s, Washington state has been prodding the U.S. Department of Energy to build two “glassification” plants at Hanford that would permanently contain the waste stored in aging tanks on the site. Delays have added to the cost of the project, now estimated at $17 billion. Glassification was supposed to begin in 2007. On the current schedule, lower-level radioactive waste wouldn’t be entombed in glass cylinders until 2023. And the high-level radioactive wastes? At present, glassification of that waste is set to begin in 2036, 29 years behind the original deadline. Read more The Energy Department wants to push that target back even further, and last month began negotiations with state leaders to do so.… Read more »

12 Years And Counting: Effort To Lock Hanford’s Radioactive Waste In Glass Faces More Delays By John Stang Crosscut, 14 February 2019 Article Excerpt: “Already 12 years behind schedule, a project at the Hanford nuclear complex meant to transform millions of gallons of radioactive waste into benign glass faces yet another delay. Since the 1990s, Washington state has been prodding the U.S. Department of Energy to build two “glassification” plants at Hanford that would permanently contain the waste stored in aging tanks on the site. Delays have added to the cost of the project, now estimated at $17 billion. Glassification was supposed to begin in 2007. On the current schedule, lower-level radioactive waste wouldn’t be entombed in glass cylinders until 2023. And the high-level radioactive wastes? At present, glassification of that waste is set to begin in 2036, 29 years behind the original deadline. The Energy Department wants to push… Read more »

Schools of Mass Destruction! Summary Excerpt: “Universities across the United States are identified in this new report for activities ranging from directly managing laboratories that design nuclear weapons to recruiting and training the next generation of nuclear weapons scientists. Much of universities’ nuclear weapons work is kept secret from students and faculty by classified research policies and undisclosed contracts with the Defense Department and the Energy Department. The goal of the report is to spark ethical reflection and action about institutional and individual involvement in the nuclear weapons complex. Specifically, the report recommends: 1) Provide greater transparency into connections with the nuclear weapons complex; Read more 2) Stop directly managing nuclear weapons production sites and dissolve research contracts solely related to nuclear weapons production; 3) For contracts with dual-purpose research applications, demand greater transparency and create specific processes for ethical review of this research; 4) Advocate for reinvestment of weapons… Read more »

The Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Site Has Always Been A Political Football. Trump Is The Latest President To Fumble By Allison Macfarlane “Much work has alreay been done on the Yucca Mountain storage facility. As with much policy-setting in the Trump administration, a single tweet from the president on February 6 appeared to reverse a previous stance. The message about Yucca Mountain, the nation’s proposed geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel and other high-level radioactive waste, set the media alight with speculation about new actions in US nuclear waste policy. But has anything changed, really? The new policy, if it is such a thing, is a little wobbly. It’s unclear whether the administration is or is not supporting Yucca Mountain as a waste repository. The Energy Department’s Undersecretary for Nuclear Energy and nominee for Deputy Secretary, Mark Menezes, stated six days later in a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing… Read more »

The Endless Saga of Yucca Mountain The Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Site Has Always Been A Political Football. Trump Is The Latest President To Fumble By Allison Macfarlane Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 21 February 2020 Tunnel in Yucca Mountain Notes: Discusses the ongoing challenge that the Yucca Mountain site poses – as well as the need for political innovation in the field of nuclear waste management and storage. Article Excerpt: “As with much policy-setting in the Trump administration, a single tweet from the president on February 6 appeared to reverse a previous stance. The message about Yucca Mountain, the nation’s proposed geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel and other high-level radioactive waste, set the media alight with speculation about new actions in US nuclear waste policy. But has anything changed, really? The new policy, if it is such a thing, is a little wobbly. It’s unclear whether the administration… Read more »

Can Hemp Save Us? Activists should all tune occasionally to the Nuclear Hotseat podcast, which is produced by Libbe HaLevy. Here’s part of one astonishing episode, number 449: Hemp: Can It Remediate Plutonium? Rockey Flats Project with Tiffany Hansen In Rocky Flats, Colorado hemp is being used to bioremediate and phytoremediate radioactively contaminated soils. Rocky Flats is a former nuclear weapons manufacturing complex near Denver, Colorado. Plants are known to be effective bioremediators (phytoremediation) in environmentally contaminated zones – though the plants themselves then become radioactive – leading to questions of what to do with radioactive plant materials after bioremediation projects. There are additionally questions about whether some plant species are more effective bioremediators and phytoremediators than others. Nuclear Hotseat links to a website by Rocky Flats Downwinders which discusses this hemp bioremediation and phytoremediation project. Here is that site: Rocky Flats Downwinders http://rockyflatsdownwinders.com/rocky-flats-hemp-phytoremediation-project/ Article Excerpt / Notes: A bill… Read more »

BWXT’s Uranium vs the Neighbours BWXT operates two uranium processing plants which are up for licensing review: one in Peterborough ON and one in Toronto ON. Both are in dense residential neighbourhoods. The uranium processing plant in Peterborough ON is across the street from the Prince of Wales Public (Elementary) School and has requested to double the size of the plant via a licensing provision that would allow the Toronto operations to move to Peterborough if the Toronto plant closes down. Alarming — considering the adjacent residential areas and schools. The Toronto plant is near Dupont Street and Lansdowne Avenue and is going to have new residential developments immediately across the street. What if an emergency situation (explosion, fire, etc.) unfolds? Is it time to move these uranium processing plants out of residential areas? The Toronto Star published an article by Patti Winsa on the community response: “This Toronto Plant… Read more »

Processing Uranium in the Neighborhood? On 3 and 4 March 2020, a two-day public hearing will be taking place regarding the renewal of BWXT’s operating license. BWXT operates two uranium processing plants which are up for licensing review – one in Peterborough ON and one in Toronto ON. Both of these are in increasingly dense residential neighbourhoods. The uranium processing plant in Peterborough ON is across the street from the Prince of Wales Public (Elementary) School and has requested to double the size of the plant via a licensing provision that would allow the Toronto operations to move to Peterborough if the Toronto plant closes down. Alarming – considering the adjacent residential areas and schools. The plant in Toronto is near Dupont Street and Lansdowne Avenue and is going to have new residential developments immediately across the street. Significant concerns have arisen around the transparency of the plant regarding operations… Read more »

Ontario’s Disposal Problem Dr. Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR) recently provided this insightful update on the Deep Geological Disposal projects in Ontario – and subsequently Indigenous responses to these projects. Here is Dr. Edwards statement — which was sent to the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR) mailing list on 1 February 2020: “The Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) has voted against Ontario Power Generation’s Deep Geological Disposal (DGR) project, planned to house all of Ontario’s Low and Intermediate Level Waste at a site within a mile of the northwestern shore of Lake Huron. To prevent confusion: there are two DGR (Deep Geological Disposal) Projects that have been under consideration in Ontario in recent years. One DGR is for all of Canada’s irradiated nuclear fuel (called “High :Level Waste (HLW)”). That project is under the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) acting under the authority of Canada’s… Read more »

The Saugeen Ojibway Say No Saugeen Ojibway hearings about the repository Dr. Gordon Edwards made the following statement, which was sent to the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR) mailing list on 1 February 2020: “The Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) has voted against Ontario Power Generation’s Deep Geological Disposal (DGR) project, planned to house all of Ontario’s Low and Intermediate Level Waste at a site within a mile of the northwestern shore of Lake Huron. To prevent confusion: there are two DGR (Deep Geological Disposal) Projects that have been under consideration in Ontario in recent years. One DGR is for all of Canada’s irradiated nuclear fuel (called “High :Level Waste (HLW)”). That project is under the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) acting under the authority of Canada’s Nuclear Fuel Waste Act. Read more The NWMO site selection process has recently (late 2019) narrowed from 22 candidate sites (potential “willing host… Read more »

Energy Under our Feet: Geothermal! “How A Climate Change Nonprofit Got Eversource Thinking About A Geothermal Future” by Bruce Gellerman Article Excerpt: Natural gas utilities in Massachusetts are facing an existential crisis: they could be out of business by mid-century. That’s because the state’s 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act requires emissions from burning fossil fuels — like natural gas — be cut by 80% economy-wide by 2050. But now a solution that could help save the companies — and the climate — is at hand. Or, more accurately, underfoot. It’s geothermal energy, which takes advantage of the biggest energy storage system on earth: the earth itself. Read more Our planet absorbs the sun’s solar energy and stores it underground as thermal energy that can be used to heat and cool homes and businesses. Just a few yards down, the earth’s temperature is a constant 50 to 60 degrees; warmer than… Read more »

Geriatric reactors An alarming article from the Erie, Pennsylvania-based Go Erie news outlet on the plans to extend the operation license of Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant in Homestead, Florida. The plant would not be decommissioned and/or shut down until it was 80 years old -significantly past its safe operating period. There is concern that this may lay a dangerous precedent for extending the operating licenses of other nuclear power plants beyond safe parameters and/or limit research interest into other, more environmentally friendly and sustainable energy systems. Read more It is alarming to hear the nearby residents in the article say nuclear is clean power – given the fact that no country on Earth has a feasible plan for the long-term storage of dangerous nuclear and radioactive waste products. Most of these products sit in storage facilities near to the reactors themselves. Read more Title: Our Aging Nuclear Power Plants… Read more »

Recalling the Old Job at Chernobyl

Check out this interesting interview (by Quick Take (Bloomberg)) which discusses Chernobyl with a former employee and liquidator of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant:


Cleaning up the place H-Canyon at SRS poses ‘maintenance challenge,’ DOE cleanup chief says By Colin Demarest Aiken Standard, 15 April 2019 This article pertains to the H-Canyon site of Savannah River – which from my understanding was a hydrogen bomb and plutonium production facility during the Cold War. More recently, it is used as a nuclear chemical separation plant. “White’s H-Canyon comments came as a response to U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., who questioned her last week during a House Armed Services Committee hearing. The hearing focused on President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2020 budget request. Trump’s request, a goal-setting document for all intents and purposes, includes about $1.6 billion for Environmental Management work at SRS. Read more H-Canyon was constructed in the early 1950s and began operations in 1955. The aging facility – 1,028 feet long, 122 feet wide and 71 feet tall – is the nation’s only… Read more »

Storing Waste on Lake Huron? First Nations support alternative plans for storing nuclear waste. Previous plans indicated storage sites along the shore of Lake Huron would be used. What these new plans – and whether they are more environmentally friendly – have yet to be determined. Sault Tribe lauds decision to abandon plan to store nuclear waste near Lake Huron “The Sault Tribe, along with the rest of the tribes in Michigan, is pleased to see Ontario Power Generation give up on this terrible idea to build a nuclear waste storage site on the shores of the Great Lakes,” Payment said. “Since 2017, the tribes in Michigan have supported our relatives in the Saugeen Ojibway Nation in their concerns over this proposal. In addition, any threat to the Lake Huron fishery that is posed by disposal of nuclear waste so close to the Great Lakes is of deep concern to… Read more »

No way!

The Ojibway have said no to a proposal to bury low-level waste on their land. What is Plan B?

Russia’s Arctic Nuclear Dump May Become Promising Fishing Area “Thousands of containers with radioactive waste were dumped in the Kara Sea during Soviet times. Now, Russia’s Federal Agency for Fishing believes it’s a good idea to start fishing. […] “17 ships and barges loaded with radioactive waste are dumped here. So are 17,000 containers with radioactive waste. Even worse, along the east coast of Novaya Zemlya is 16 nuclear reactors dumped, six of them with spent uranium fuel still on board. ” […] According to Sergey Gulovanov (Head of the Science and Education Department with the Federal Agency for Fisheries) the Kara Sea’s advantage for the fishing industry is that it is a shelf sea, it does not border any territorial waters of other nations. “This is why Russia can have own fishing regulations there,” he said according to TASS. ” […] “Sergey Golovanov says fishing for rare species could… Read more »

There’s Waste in Australia too!

Transporting nuclear wastes across Australia in the age of bushfires (8 January 2020)

Excerpt: “The radiological risks associated with the transportation of spent fuel and high-level waste are well understood and are generally low, with the possible exception of risks from releases in extreme accidents involving very long duration, fully engulfing fires. While the likelihood of such extreme accidents appears to be very small, their occurrence cannot be ruled out.

Transportation planners and managers should undertake detailed surveys of transportation routes to identify potential hazards that could lead to or exacerbate extreme accidents involving very long duration, fully engulfing fires.”

And There are Fires in Russia too! Link: https://www.americansecurityproject.org/thinking-the-unthinkable-fires-in-russia-fan-nuclear-fears/ Thinking the Unthinkable: Fires in Russia Fan Nuclear Fears (11 August 2010) “The United States has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and years of effort to help Russia secure its nuclear stockpiles from what is euphemistically referred to as “diversion.” But the 600 wildfires raging across the Russian countryside spotlight another risk to the nuclear-industrial complex: natural disaster. Add to the flaming peat and forest infernos, the acrid city smog and the scorched village dwellings the specter of an atomic explosion or plumes of unseen radiation. “It demonstrates that terrorists are not the only threat against Russian nuclear weapons,” Hans Kristensen, a nuclear researcher with the Federation of American Scientists, told AOL News. Russia’s frantic manoeuvers to protect radioactive material and weapons labs suggest that the government was caught unprepared. With a state of emergency declared in the Chelyabinsk region… Read more »

Radioactive Alligators and Ant Hills “The animal monitoring at Savannah River and its sister sites underscores a shift in attitude within the nation’s nuclear weapons establishment. For decades during the Cold War, workers gave little regard to the environmental consequences of the weapons operation, often dumping contaminated waste in unmarked pits with no controls to keep it from spreading into soil and groundwater.” Animals can be good biomarkers if radiation is seeping into adjacent environments – and if so – how. The article offers several case examples, such as: radioactive alligators via contaminated wetlands at the Savannah Site in Georgia; a radioactive rabbit discovered near Hanford; a radioactive ant hill near Hanford; and radioactive deer at both sites. Resources are devoted to ensuring contaminated animals do not make it off site into areas the general public frequent. Occasionally, officials open the Savannah River site up for the public to hunt… Read more »

Chernobyl Forest Litter Decomposes Slowly

Apparently, regions around the Chernobyl disaster have a decreased rate of decay – due to the radiation impeding the activity and growth of fungi, insects, and microbes. Researchers additionally noted that dead trees, leaves, and fallen tree trunks are not decomposing at the same rate – leading to increased risk of intense forest fires. There is applicability for this research for other contexts beyond Chernobyl, such as Fukushima.


Dumping it in Cardboard Boxes! Here’s a news item about the Savannah River site in South Carolina. This plant was critical to the manufacturing of the United States’ hydrogen bombs. Some excerpts: “That burial ground is where the plant dumped much of its solid radioactive waste at the time, often in cardboard boxes. Radioactive contamination continues to leach from burial trenches into groundwater and periodically the Savannah River despite efforts to cap the trenches and stem the leakage. Plant engineers built a dam to block most of the flow and create a large pond. […] The contaminated pond water is used as irrigation and regularly sprayed into the surrounding forest where it is absorbed by the trees and evaporates harmlessly into the atmosphere. The pond also is home to two radioactive alligators dubbed by workers as Tritagator and Dioxinator — after two of the wastes, radioactive tritium and toxic dioxin.… Read more »

Do they seal the old uranium mines?

An old uranium mine

I have heard that Canada has had a number of uranium mines – some of which were used during the Manhattan Project. Some are still in use, though the industry has declined in recent years. The earliest mines opened in the 1930s. During the mid-twentieth century, it appears as if the standard protocol to “seal” old mines was either flooding the mine and/or boarding it up. Many of these are in remote regions – though not all. Are these “safe” ways to seal mines? Is it possible they are leaching into surrounding environments?

Uh oh. Wrong kind of cat litter I have heard several interesting reports of types of cat litter being used in fuel storage barrels at nuclear storage repositories. Apparently, certain types of cat litter can be used to assist with containing radioactive products. NPR identifies how “cat litter has been used for years to dispose of nuclear waste. Dump it into a drum of sludge and it will stabilize volatile radioactive chemicals. The litter prevents it from reacting with the environment.” Similarly, World Nuclear News identifies “each barrel of waste disposed of at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) contains around 26 kg of cat litter to stabilize liquids and nitrate salts.” [rad more] An incident on 14 February 2014 unfolded at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in the USA where organic cat litter was used by accident – due to an administrative error in product ordering. Radiolytic processes… Read more »

Israeli scientists engineer bacteria to eat CO₂ Decade-long research at Weizmann Institute could pave way for low-emissions production of carbon for use in biofuels, food, and help remove excess global warming CO₂ from air By Sue Surkes, The Times of Israel, 28 November 2019 In a remarkable breakthrough that could pave the way toward carbon-neutral fuels, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science have produced a genetically engineered bacteria that can live on carbon dioxide rather than sugar. The extraordinary leap — reported in Cell, and quickly picked up by prestigious publications such as Nature — could lead to the low-emissions production of carbon for use in biofuels or food that would also help to remove excess CO₂ from the atmosphere, where it is helping to drive global warming. Read more Plants and ocean-living cyanobacteria perform photosynthesis, taking the energy from light to transform CO₂ into a form of organic… Read more »


Premiers are going to build small modular reactors!

I am alarmed to hear that several Canadian province’s premiers have committed to develop and promote the installation of small modular reactors in their communities. These provinces include New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.

Many areas in Canada have concerning trends in the management and trends of radioactive waste products – such as radioactive materials being stored only a few hundred meters from the shores of various Great Lakes (Lake Huron, Lake Ontario.). Where will the eventual waste products (spent activation products) from these small modular reactors be stored for hundreds or thousands of years post-use?

Is it worth encouraging exploration and investment in other modes of energy production? Surely New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan have potential for hydroelectric, solar, and wind to various extents.


Supply the Terrorists?

The main reason for objecting to small nuclear reactors is that they will involve reprocessing nuclear fuel–chemically separating out the kind of material that could be used in nuclear weapons. The only thing keeping terrorists or all kinds of nasty governments from building nuclear bombs is that it is hard to get the necessary fissile materials. So do we want to make it easier for them by promoting reprocessing? No! We should ban all reprocessing immediately!

Threat of Uranium Mining in the Grand Canyon

By Miranda Green and Rebecca Beitsch, “Democrats Aim to Protect Grand Canyon from ‘Imminent’ Drilling Threat,” The Hill, October 29, 2019.

U.S. Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) has proposed a bill to protect the Grand Canyon from uranium mining. Although a 20-year ban was implemented in 2012 to protect the Grand Canyon from mining, Grijalva fears the ban is no longer enough to keep out mining groups.

In 2017, President Trump declared uranium to be a key component for national security. Grijalva expects the White House’s Nuclear Fuel Working Group to recommend mining uranium near the Grand Canyon. Grijalva has thus deemed legislation necessary to protect the national park from exploitation. While many Republicans support uranium mining — a core element for the production of nuclear weapons — many Democrats are in opposition due to its destructive effects on the environment.

Geiger Counter Flower Petals?

For low-level radioactive sites – and in other applications with radiation- certain plant species can function as a supplementary radiation detector. Of interest are spiderwort plants (in the Tradecantia genus), where the stamens (the center of the flower) mutate from blue to pink in the presence of ionizing radiation. This was initially discovered in Japan in the 1970s and has been re-iterated by several media and research articles since then. It certainly does replace the importance of Geiger counters but has potential applications for sites with low-level radioactive materials – and may be useful to detect changes in ambient radiation levels. It additionally shows the change within days of exposure to low-level ionizing radiation versus the months or years it would take (in some cases) for it to show in humans, etc.

Mutant colours

It is important to note that specific cells mutate colour and it is not the whole flower – as this species of flower comes in a number of colours naturally ranging from blue to pink to purple.

Guess who’s managing our radioactivity!

Here’s that name again: “SNC Lavalin.” We heard about it for months before the Canadian election, but only as something the prime minister tried to protect (presumably as a way to sustain jobs in Quebcc). But it ought to be a bigger story that this company is managing Canada’s radioactive risks.

What was that about lasers again, please? Has there been further research into using high-power lasers to transmute radioactive waste? An article published in 2003 by New Scientist indicated that the Vulcan Laser at the University of Strathclyde had begun researching ways to transmute radioactive waste to reduce its half-lives. Of interest was Iodine 129 with a half-live of 15.7 million years which could be transmuted to Iodine 128 with a half-life of 25 minutes. The laser is the size of a “small hotel” and a million billion watts – producing gamma radiation. One of the concerns is producing enough energy to use the laser to transmute the waste – which could require an entire power plant of its own to process the waste product from another. There would additionally be a surge of radioactivity during the transmutation process. Read more One of the 2018 Nobel Laureates — Dr. Gerard… Read more »

Suppose a Tsunami Hits the Dome The dome under construction What would happen if a tsunami hits the Cactus / Runit Dome in the Marshall Islands? In Dr. Spencer’s class on public health in the nuclear age – it was indicated that this dome was already falling apart – and that radiation levels outside the dome were equal to or greater than those inside the dome. For the unfamiliar – the dome was built in the 1970s by the United Stated Department of Energy in attempts to contain radioactive debris from their decades of nuclear testing on the atolls of the Marshall Islands. There has been a cohort lasting decades from the researchers and other US government employees involved in these tests, called Operation Crosswords. Essentially, large chunks of radioactive concrete, metal, etc. were thrown in a crater and covered in a concrete dome. Unfortunately, the soil on atolls is… Read more »

Pickering’s Spent Fuel Bundles “The more than 760,000 spent fuel bundles stored at the Pickering nuclear plant are the legacy of 50 years of reactor operations with no long-term waste management solution in sight. This waste contains dangerous radioactive elements and enough plutonium to construct more than 11,000 nuclear warheads. Laid end-to-end, the radioactive fuel bundles stored at Pickering would stretch from Kingston to St. Catharines. Read more More than half the waste that Ontario Power Generation has been quietly piling up at Pickering nuclear plant is kept in open water pools. One of the biggest concerns during the Fukushima nuclear disaster was the possibility of a “pool fire” if the zircaloy cladding on spent fuel bundles combusted. All of Tokyo would have needed to be evacuated if a narrowly avoided pool fire had happened. Pickering’s fuel has the same cladding, except Pickering is 10 times closer to downtown Toronto… Read more »

Buried near Port Hope

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The Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI) represents the Government of Canada’s commitment to the cleanup and safe, local, long-term management of historic low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) in two Southern Ontario municipalities – Port Hope and Clarington. The waste is the result of radium and uranium processing in Port Hope between 1933 and 1988 by the former Crown corporation Eldorado Nuclear Limited and its private-sector predecessors.

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Nuclear Power Plants Without Valid Licenses! An alarming article from Sophia Ankel and Alexandra Hilpert at Business Insider (25 August 2019) on the state of environmental licenses and nuclear reactors in the European Union. “There are 18 active nuclear power plants currently operating without a valid license in the European Union, according to a report seen by Business Insider. Many of the power plants should have already been subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Read more according to a report put together by Germany’s Green Party member and nuclear expert Sylvia Kotting-Uhl. An EIA aims to identify the environmental consequences of major projects, such as the construction of an airport, and has proposed some lesser damaging alternatives. Some of the EU countries running the illegal power plants include the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Belgium, Finland, the UK, Sweden, and Switzerland. The number does not take into account the 34 other… Read more »

How is it possible for 18 nuclear power plants to be operating without a valid license? Good grief!

Some Reactors are Approved Without a License

That article is presumably referring to a specific class of license – issued around notions of environmental assessments/impacts for the reactor sites.

The license is called an EIA: “An EIA aims to identify the environmental consequences of major projects, such as the construction of an airport, and has proposed some lesser damaging alternatives.” [and] “The UN Committee responsible for these investigations is currently examining several nuclear reactors which are said to have been approved in Europe without an EIA.”

Beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s, research was conducted in Europe in relation to nuclear powered pacemakers. One such model had a plutonium RTG battery. Would folks that had these implanted be required to be buried in a lead-lined coffin, like Marie Skłodowska-Curie?

Where does Radioactive Scrap Metal Go? Has anyone considered the role of radioactive scrap metal inadvertently incorporated into the recycling industry? I have heard this is an issue in Eastern Europe and former Soviet Bloc areas. Of particular concern was the incorporation of mildly radioactive materials into the metal being re-purposed for built materials. Having sections of a structural support beam leaching radioactivity would potentially cause structural failure due to neutron embrittlement, irregular atomic and molecular structure, etc. Read more There was a large IAEA report (about 400 pages) from a conference in Europe several years ago around this. Several borders are setting up radioactive check-points to check for this material on train and truck shipments of scrap metal. One source known to be a problem are RTGs (radioisotope thermoelectric generators) – a class of small reactors used to power remote radio and weather beacons in Soviet times. These reactors… Read more »

Correction and clarification: The Georgia incident was in the village of Lia or Liya (Tsalenjikha region) and was predominantly woodcutters that were exposed – among others in the village. This was in December 2001. Two were hospitalized for months. The strontium-90 core of these devices can provide a fatal dose of radiation in approximately two minutes. Eight known RTGs were installed in Georgia in the 1980s in relation to radio relay sites for hydroelectric projects, of which two are presently missing. Allegedly the strontium-90 cores are in ceramic form, rendering it difficult for re-use in terrorism-related purposes. As of 2002, there was a bounty of $10 000 for each of the missing RTGs – as they were to be transported to Turkey. It is likely that this plan has since been cancelled.

Radioactive steel must not be reused

Yes, here in Canada, Bruce Power Corporation, the largest collection of reactors in the world were going to send radioactive steel from their plant on Lake Huron down the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River to Sweden to be reused. This was luckily stopped.

Is Grand Central Station Radioactive?

Another source of radiation exposure is the built materials of some older buildings. One that stands out in my mind is Grand Central Station in New York City. The granite materials used in its constructions are mildly radioactive. Several reports came out years ago, calculating the dose exposure of employees that worked in the station. Of note were shoe-shine boys and janitors. The walls leach radioactivity in that building, though it’s significantly less radioactivity than a Chernobyl-like event.


That being said, this could be an “urban legend” – it would be fascinating to see some official research on the topic. Are there other built materials leaching radioactivity?

Whatever Happened to those Old Uranium Mines? Has anyone looked into the environmental exposure risks from the old uranium mines globally? A number of them began in the early 20th century and continued through the late 20th century. Some were simply flooded if they were shut down before World War 2. Could this cause leaching into the surrounding environment? One horrifying report came out of the Northwest Territories in Canada where one of the large uranium (former pitchblende) mines used for the Manhattan Project was employing First Nations individuals to move the ore across the lake to a site where it was to be refined then shipped south. Many of these individuals developed severe forms of lung and other cancers decades later as they were inhaling radioactive particulate dust for months (if not years) on end. There were additional reports that the individuals were using old ore sacks for housing… Read more »

I Favor Small Modular Reactors, But… Nuclear energy is a subject i am deeply concerned with. Why? because my mother died of cancer when i was 16 years old. She was sick for 6 years of my life and many others I have known have had cancer including my aunt and uncle who both died of it in different forms. I think Nuclear Energy is extremely important and needs to be utilized in a way that will safeguard against accidents and radiation leakage. I am all for SMR’s(small modular reactors) but they need to be monitored properly. I believe the accident at chalk river might have been the factor responsible for my moms cancer, as we did a lot of traveling around Ontario and close to the accident site. My hope is responsible development of the technology and its regulated use will continue to be done but we need a… Read more »

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors Are Radioactive!

Dear Richard:
SMNR still require enriched uranium and produce plutonium that can be used for making nuclear weapons. They also produce nuclear radioactive waste that we haven’t found a solution over the last 70+ years. The German KKK study found an increased risk of leukemias in children less than 5 years of age who grew up within 5 km of nuclear power reactors. This could also have a bearing on SMNR.
Richard Denton, MD

Canadian Plans for Nuclear Power Emergency

Canada does have some plans in place for situations where a leak or other safety emergency occurred at a nuclear power plant. For example, here is a link to the plans for intervening if something bad happens in the Point Lepreau reactor. (See a photo of the reactor on the attached PDF.)

Ohio Governor Signs Coal and Nuclear Bailout at Expense of Renewable Energy

By Dan Gearino | Jul 26, 2019

In a year when several states have taken big steps to embrace a future that runs on renewable energy, Ohio is taking a leap in the opposite direction.

The Ohio legislature passed a measure Tuesday that cuts renewable energy and energy efficiency programs while adding subsidies for nuclear and coal-fired power plants—a policy cocktail that opponents say is backward-looking and harmful to the economy, consumers and the environment.

Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, signed the bill into law within hours.

Interesting that he identifies two other southern “red” states that are more advanced than Ohio. I read in the NY Times that now the majority of Republicans acknowledge that climate change is real. If so, presumably the red states will start acting smarter. But how soon?

A False Dilemma? Let’s Hope So

Well, yes, Lori, but not necessarily in a way preferred by most of the people who endorse the Platform for Survival. If they switch to worrying about climate change, they may favor a solution based on increasing the use of nuclear power, which a lot of us abhor. At least that is the case with John Barrosso, a Republican Congressman from Wyoming, who had fought against climate change action. Now he wants to promote nuclear power. Is that progress? (I’m not sure.)

Gigantic, mysterious radiation leak traced to facility in Russia By Ruby Prosser Scully . TECHNOLOGY July 29, 2019 The source of a gigantic, mysterious leak of radioactive material that swept across Europe in 2017 has been traced to a Russian nuclear facility, which appears to have been preparing materials for experiments in Italy. The leak released up to 100 times the amount of radiation into the atmosphere that the Fukushima disaster did. Italian scientists were the first to raise the alarm on 2 October, when they noticed a burst of the radioactive ruthenium-106 in the atmosphere. This was quickly corroborated by other monitoring laboratories across Europe. Georg Steinhauser at Leibniz University Hannover in Germany says he was “stunned” when he first noticed the event. Routine surveillance detects several radiation leaks each year, mostly of extremely low levels of radionuclides used in medicine. But this event was different. “The ruthenium-106 was… Read more »

Christian Forum in Japan Urges Ending Nuclear Power Voices of Fukushima power plant explosion victims strengthen call to ban nuclear energy By Rachel Farmer, Anglican Communion News Posted on July 28, 2019 by beyondnuclearinternational Japanese parish priests shared stories of suffering from victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster at a May 2019 International Forum for a Nuclear-Free World held in Sendai, Japan. A joint statement from the forum, issued in July 2019, strengthens the call for a worldwide ban on nuclear energy and encourages churches to join in the campaign. Read more The statement – Affirming the Preciousness of Life, in Order that Life may be Lived – For a World Free of Nuclear Power – noted that “We believe that it is highly important that this issue of nuclear power generation be considered from the perspective of the dignity of life.” The statement went on to point out the… Read more »

How can anyone doubt it when they are DOING it?

There are lots of amazing new proposals for creating fuel out of thin air. Or air heavy with carbon dioxide. One of the most controversial proposals is by CarbonEngineering, a company in Squamish, British Columbia that is capturing carbon and making a fuel that can be used in cars. They say they can do it for $100 per ton. (Or is that “tonne”?). I’ve met engineers who doubt it.

Float Solar Panels on Islands

Here is a strange proposal. Build thousands of islands covered with solar panels. Use the electricity to produce hydrogen and capture the CO 2, then make fuel from it. Hmmm.

More dosimeters, please!

There should be more dosimeters available in places where radiation exposure might take place.

Scary. Apparently the soil outside and even in the ocean around it is also highly radioactive now.

Background: To facilitate the eventual deployment of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMNRs), the nuclear industry and its regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), are lobbying to have SMNRs exempted from any form of public environmental assessment process. The less public attention, the better. The Vice-chair of the Canadian Senate Committee examining the proposed law that is designed to govern questions of environmental assessment is also on the Board of “Canada Carbon” — a company planning to mine a deposit of exceptionally pure graphite in Quebec. Very pure graphite is required for some types of nuclear reactors. Such high quality graphite is only required in nuclear reactors — there is no other use of graphite that necessitates such a near-total lack of impurities, It seems a clear case of conflict of interest. When Enrico Fermi achieved the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in Chicago, he used graphite. When the US… Read more »